Sheriff Department

Denver Sheriff Department Honor Guard at the annual Fallen Officers Memorial.

The Denver Sheriff Department is the largest sheriff department in the state of Colorado — we are proud to represent the Mile High City!

Our Mission

The mission of the Denver Sheriff Department is to provide safe and secure custody for those placed in our care and to perform all of our duties in a manner that is responsive to the needs of our diverse community.


Sheriff Elias Diggins wearing his uniform facing the camera and smiling  
 Sheriff Elias Diggins

We are committed to excellent community and customer service and to continuously building a smarter and exceptional agency by concentrating on four pillars as described in our Strategic Plan.

The Denver Sheriff Department, led by Sheriff Elias Diggins, comprises over 1,100 uniformed and non-uniformed staff overseeing many diverse divisions and operations including two jail facilities, security for the district and county court systems, state inmate transportation, extradition duties, fugitive and K-9 units, a vehicle impound facility, work release facility, and security at Denver Health & Medical Center.

Track our progress – we've summed up 2020 in just a few pages. Take a look at how the Denver Sheriff Department implemented the four pillars of the Strategic Plan over the course of a year.

2020 Annual Report(PDF, 17MB)     Strategic Plan 2.0(PDF, 3MB)

Join our Team!

The Denver Sheriff Department is looking for talented, qualified community members to come work with us!

Interested in a public safety career, but not ready to apply? Find out how to become a cadet.

Want to know more about our policies? Check out these resources.

The Dual Mindset

A yin-yang symbol with the words humanity and freedom filling it in, the mindset for all that the Denver Sheriff Department does. How we – Denver Sheriff Department (DSD) employees – approach what we do is critical, not just to the overall success of the Denver Sheriff Department, but also our individual achievements. Because the work we do is in service to others, we bear a great responsibility to one another, and those in our care, to lead with our humanity. We are a proud department with a tradition of Dedication, Service, and Duty – as we move forward, we will continue to embrace the Dual Mindset of Humanity and Freedom in our work.

The Dual Mindset is as follows:

“We LEAD with our HUMANITY” – this sentiment should be instilled in everything we do. Every DSD employee should recognize that we are in a profession where we must display our humanity in all our actions, including the way we use force. From the way we treat and speak to one another, the public, and those in our custody, everything must be guided by our humanity. When we lead and end our actions in this way, we can be confident that they are done thoughtfully.

“The deprivation of a person’s FREEDOM is their punishment.” It is not our responsibility to punish anyone while they are in our custody. The people in the community we serve should be confident that those in our custody will not be mistreated. Even when someone violates a rule while in our facilities, our responsibility is to correct their behavior, not to punish. We will ensure the conditions of our facilities go beyond conventional means and represent the best practices in our field. 

Learn More About Us

A Department Steeped in History

The Denver Sheriff Department (DSD) has been around for almost 120 years! This department was established on December 2, 1902, at the same time as the City and County of Denver. The department provided security for the courts, court-related services, and the county jail. Today, the DSD continues to perform these duties, but many more have been adopted.

The Denver Sheriff Department currently oversees and provides services for several facilities, two of which are jails: the Denver County Jail and the Downtown Detention Center (city jail).

The Denver County Jail we know today opened in 1956, having demolished much of the original jail, and has undergone many changes over the years. Current housing units accommodate direct supervision pods and are used for the long-term care and custody of inmates.

In 1951, deputy sheriffs began overseeing the city jail, relieving police officers for street duties. Deputy sheriffs were supervised by police commanders until 1968 when the responsibility shifted to sheriff officials.

A panoramic view of Denver, Colorado from 1898, courtesy of Wikipedia

Initially, the city jail was located on the fourth floor of police headquarters and eventually moved to the Pre Arraignment Detention Facility (PADF), which served as the main booking facility until the new Downtown Detention Center (DDC) opened in 2010. The Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center, known locally as the DDC, is named after Denver District Attorney, Phillip Van Cise, and Denver's longest serving undersheriff of 18 years, Louis John Simonet.

The DSD differs from other sheriff departments in several aspects, including how the sheriff is instated. Rather than running in an election, the sheriff is appointed by the Denver mayor. And, unlike other counties, Denver does not have a statutory undersheriff. In 2013, the title of sheriff was given to the executive head of the department. Denver does not have a statutory undersheriff as in other counties.

The sheriff department is joined by the police department, fire department, the 9-1-1 Combined Communications Center, Public Safety Youth Programs, Community Corrections, and the Gang Reduction Initiative (GRID) under the Department of Safety (DOS) umbrella. Under the guidance of the Executive Director, who is appointed by the city's mayor, DOS provides management, discipline, human resources, administrative support and policy direction to public safety services. 

Get in Touch

Denver Sheriff Department Mailing Address

P.O. Box 1108
Denver, Colorado


Denver County Jail

10500 E. Smith Road
Denver, Colorado


Downtown Detention Center
Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center
490 W. Colfax Avenue
Denver, Colorado

News and Media

For media-related requests and/or inquiries, contact Daria Serna, Director of Communications.

720-337-0352 (media calls only)

More Contacts

If you can't seem to find the information you're looking for, take a look at the Contacts page for further resources.

Follow us on social media!

Get all of the latest announcements, news, and updates from the Denver Sheriff Department.